It’s easy to miss what makes Knoch Knolls Park unique. Run by the Naperville Park District, the park occupies the land between the west branch and east branch of the DuPage River before they merge at the southern border of the park. The paved DuPage River Trail runs through the park and connects the trails that follow both the west and east branches of the river.
Not much more than a mile of the trail runs through the park before it hits the DuPage River Sports complex, which contains baseball diamonds and tennis courts.
I’ve ridden my bike along the paved trail multiple times, and frankly it’s a pretty ordinary section of paved path. It wasn’t until I saw a cross-country invitational at the park that I realized what I was missing—miles of unpaved, trails through the woods in the park.
You’re hard-pressed to find anything but crushed limestone in most of DuPage County, but Knoch Knolls has honest to goodness packed-dirt singletrack, as well as miles of multitrack and grass paths mowed into the prairie. In other words it’s just about the perfect place for a cross-country race—no wonder they were holding invitationals there.
But don’t expect any trail signs or help when you arrive. This is more of an explore-on-your-own situation. There are some generic signs telling cyclists to yield on the shared paths, but you won’t find a general trail map at the park or on the Naperville Park District’s website.
Thankfully, the Chicago Area Mountain Bikers (CAMBR) offers a map to give you an overview.
What Makes It Great
Most of the singletrack can be found on the trails on the north side of the DuPage River trail. CAMBR estimates that there are 5.5 miles of off-road trails, and that feels about right. The nice thing is that they’re in a very compact space. You can park at the DuPage River Sports Complex and you have access to bathrooms and water fountains, and then escape into the woods for some off-road fun.
Who is Going to Love It
Packed-direct singletrack in DuPage County! There are lots of twists and turns in the heavily wooded sections in the north side of the park. You actually might want to consider wearing trail running shoes if you have them, as the trail can get uneven and features logs, rocks and other trail debris. (But if you don’t have them, road shoes will still be fine. This is Illinois, after all.) The park is home to plenty of deer, and there are plenty of good views of the western branch of the DuPage River.
These trails are fun for any runners who enjoy going off-road. You don’t have a ton of mileage, but who cares? You have some rolling hills to enjoy, but nothing too difficult.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
You can park at the DuPage Sports Complex (Royce Road and Washington Street), which is east of Knoch Knolls Park, and enter via the DuPage River Trail. The main entrance is on the other side of the river, just off of Knoch Knolls Road, but it’s temporarily unavailable during the construction of the Knoch Knolls Nature Center, which is scheduled for completion in October 2014. You can still enter that side of the park via the DuPage River Trail, but there is no parking.
Have you run at the Knock Knolls Park? What did you think? Leave your comments here or post a photo.